Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Policy
|Office of the President, Affirmative Action Office|
|Affirmative Action Officer|
|Revised on August 2007|
|Lactation, Nursing Mothers, Expression of Breast Milk, Breast Feeding|
New York state law protects the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace. This law prohibits discrimination against nursing mothers who decide to express milk during the work day.
The Act Requires:
- For a period of up to three years following childbirth, employers in New York must provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time each day to a nursing mother to express breast milk, or permit a nursing mother to use paid break time or meal time each day to express breast milk.
- The employer must make “reasonable efforts” to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the employee’s work area where the employee can express breast milk privately.
- The law prohibits discrimination of any kind against the employee who chooses to express breast milk in the workplace.
- This accommodation may not include a bathroom stall or a storage area.
The New York State Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act requires employers to provide break time for nursing female employees to express breast milk for up to three years following the birth of a child. This law is consistent with the college's desire to provide an environment that recognizes and supports the work/life needs of our employees.
Employee’s Role: It is the employee’s responsibility to approach her supervisor and request an accommodation.
Supervisor’s Role: The supervisor is encouraged to rearrange work schedules to accommodate an employee’s request to express breast milk during the workday. Supervisors are to be flexible in accommodating an employee’s request at work. However, the law is not intended for employees to come in late and leave work early. If supervisors have a complicated situation or wish additional advice, they are encouraged to contact human resources.
Applicable Legislation and Regulations
The Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time each day to a nursing mother to express breast milk, or permit a nursing mother to use paid break time or meal time each day to express breast milk. This law was adopted to afford women the right to continue working, without being discriminated against, and not have to choose between working and providing breast milk for their children
Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices
Identify a suitable location for expressing breast milk at or within close proximity to the employee's work location.
- “Close Proximity” has not yet been defined by law. Until qualified, the college will consider “close proximity” to be a location within 10 miles from the employee's work location. Therefore, centers and units within a 10-mile radius need only one suitable location for the purpose of expressing breast milk.
- A “suitable location” would include a comfortable room that is private and can be locked and contains a chair, small table, electrical outlet and wastebasket (examples include: office, conference room, single-room restroom which can be locked). A bathroom stall or storage area is not suitable.
The employee’s request to be afforded a “reasonable amount” of time to express breast milk at work must be accommodated. The employer may use paid or unpaid leave.
- UUP bargaining unit members may charge annual leave in minimum ¼ day units.
- CSEA bargaining unit members may charge annual or personal leave in minimum 5-minute intervals.
Since the law leaves undefined such term “reasonable amount,” the college has determined a reasonable amount of time for this purpose to be in the range of 20-30 minutes, two to three times per day. College policy allows Empire State College and Research Foundation employees up to three years following childbirth to utilize this benefit.
The deans at each center, excluding Saratoga Springs locations, are asked to email OHR with an identified space available for expressing breast milk at or within close proximity, to each center and unit.